targeting

Disgraced ex-IRS official will not get immunity in exchange for testimony

When disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, she will not receive immunity for any testimony she gives, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):

“Her attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve had a back and forth negotiation,” Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “But quite frankly, we believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her in her best interest to be summoned to testify.”

The evidence that Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has obtained are emails showing that Lerner drafted the proposed IRS regulations that would restrict political speech of nonprofit groups that engage in public policy discussions. The regulations are currently being considered by the IRS.

Wallace asked whether the House Oversight Committee offered Lerner immunity in exchange for her testimony. “We did not,” Issa replied, adding later that he believes the disgraced IRS official will answer all the committee’s questions about the powerful tax agencies targeting of conservative groups.

Obama defends handling of Benghazi, other scandals

Barack Obama

In an occasionally contentious interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups. He also addressed the Obamacare canceled health plan controversy.

Obamacare rollout and Sebelius

O’Reilly began the interview by asking President Obama why HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius still has a job in his administration after the initial, disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov.

President Obama repeated the line that no one in his administration “anticipated the degree of problems” on the federal Obamacare exchange website, which isn’t necessarily true, given the warnings from some officials that the website wasn’t ready for launch. Instead, he acknowledge the problems and focused on the fixes applied to the website.

IRS inappropriately asked for conservative groups’ donor lists for a so-called “secret research project”

There’s a long-standing legal precedent that prevents the federal government from accessing information that belongs to private organizations. In 1958, the Supreme Court, ruled that the State of Alabama violated the rights of NAACP members when it demanded information from the civil rights organization, including its membership list.

“Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association,” wrote Justice John Harlan in the unanimous opinion. “It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech.”

The Internal Revenue Service, however, doesn’t care. Or, at the very least, the powerful tax agency didn’t care when it was scrutinizing nonprofit organizations, the bulk of which had conservative leanings. Judicial Watch has obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in October 2013 in which IRS officials say that donor lists were needed for a unexplained “secret research project”:

Here’s more evidence the IRS really doesn’t want Congress to know what Lois Lerner may have been doing

Judicial Watch just keeps on uncovering more information about the Internal Revenue Service’s actions both before and after its targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge.

The conservative watchdog group managed to get the Justice Department to admit that the missing emails, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist on a backup system. Now, via National Review, Judicial Watch has discovered that the IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry, after — yes, after — Congress began looking into the targeting scandal, and didn’t bother to save any of the information on it:

According to the second round of IRS affidavits submitted to U.S. district court judge Emmett Sullivan, who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against the nation’s tax agency by watchdog group Judicial Watch, Inc., IRS technical analysts did not search Lois Lerner’s Blackberry for her allegedly “lost” e-mails — and the smartphone was destroyed after congressional investigation had begun.

Whoa: Disgraced ex-IRS official Lois Lerner really, really hates conservatives

The House Ways and Means Committee is out with a new bombshell revelation in its investigation of disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner. Turns out that she believes the “our own crazies” are worse than “alien teRrorists” (sic).

The Committee released email correspondence between Lerner and another IRS employee (PDF), whose name has been reacted. What started as a discussion about mundane stuff turned into a rant from the unnamed employee against the “wacko wing of the GOP,” “right wing radio shows” and their “rabid” callers. Lerner lamented that “[m]aybe we are through if there are that many assholes.”

“So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists (sic),” Lerner says in one of the emails. “It’s our own crazies that will take us down.”

Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) fired off a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (PDF) urging that he “begin aggressively investigating” the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

“Despite the serious investigation and evidence this Committee has undertaken into the IRS’s targeting of individuals for their beliefs, there is no indication that DOJ is taking this matter seriously,” Camp said in a press release. “In light of this new information, I hope DOJ will aggressively pursue this case and finally appoint a special counsel, so the full truth can be revealed and justice is served.”

Ending the politicization of the IRS: A new House report recommends nixing the tax agency commissioner’s job

More than a year after the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge, a key House committee has made a long list of recommendations to end the politicization of the powerful federal tax agency.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report, Making Sure Targeting Never Happens: Getting Politics Out of the IRS and Other Solutions, on Tuesday that outlines 15 proposals to reform the IRS, protect Americans’ free speech and privacy rights, and much more.

“As the Committee continues its comprehensive investigation into IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs, both immediate and long-term reforms are needed to prevent such targeting from ever happening again,” Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said in a press release. “We must make structural changes to improve internal oversight and get politics out of the IRS. The current imbalance of IRS power over taxpayers must cede to a system that recognizes and protects the rights of taxpayers.”

The Committee proposes that the IRS commissioner post, currently held by John Koskinen, be replaced with a multi-member, bipartisan commission, which, the report says, would bring much-needed checks and balances to the agency. The IRS commissioner is currently appointed by the president and subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Watch Trey Gowdy absolutely destroy the IRS commissioner over his contradictory testimony

Trey Gowdy

Yeah, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen had a really tough time yesterday during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearing into the tax agency’s response to the IRS scandal.

Frankly, any time the IRS is scrutinized is glorious. But the best part of the hearing was when Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) grilled Koskinen over his previous misleading statements about Lois Lerner’s missing emails and supposedly “recycled” backup tapes as well as the IRS’ failure to properly investigate the targeting of conservative groups:

Clown show at the IRS: Tax agency chief now says they’ve found the backup tapes he previously claimed they didn’t have

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was just kidding, guys. The federal agency he oversees totally has those backup tapes that he previously told House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had been recycled. But whether or not Lois Lerner’s emails are on them remains to be seen:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know “how they found them” or “whether there’s anything on them or not.” But he said the inspector general’s office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any “recoverable” material.

The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes “no longer exist because they have been recycled.”

It is unclear whether the tapes in IG custody contain any Lerner emails, but Koskinen said investigators are now checking.

The latest revelation in the IRS comes just days after the House Oversight and Government Reform released testimony from Thomas Kane, the IRS official in charge document compliance, who suggested that the backup tapes containing Lerner’s emails may not have been recycled after all.

Seriously?:Justice Department investigators didn’t know about missing IRS emails until they heard about it on the news

That’s right, folks. Deputy Attorney General James Cole told a House subcommittee that the Internal Revenue Service never told Justice Department investigators about the two years of missing emails from the time period in which the powerful tax agency targeted conservative organizations applying for nonprofit status.

Cole made the revelation during a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs hearing on Thursday. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) asked when the Justice Department learned of the missing emails.

“I think we learned about it after that from the press accounts that were in the paper following the IRS’ notification to the Congress,” Cole replied, adding that investigators were looking at “many different forms and sources of those emails.”

Today in Liberty: Rand Paul absolutely owns Rick Perry on foreign policy, Jon Voight says Obama is tearing the U.S. apart

“The fact that the market is not doing what we wish it would do is no reason to automatically assume that the government would do it better.” — Thomas Sowell


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